Product supervision of alcoholic beverages and spirits

In accordance with the Alcohol Act, the manufacturer and wholesaler of an alcoholic beverage is responsible for the quality and composition of the alcoholic beverage delivered for consumption. The manufacturer and wholesaler are also responsible for ensuring that the product and its labelling and other presentation comply with the applicable regulations. Valvira guides and supervises the implementation of the responsibility of manufacturers and importers of alcoholic beverages by virtue of the Alcohol Act and the Food Act.

Valvira supervises the manufacture, wholesale and use of alcoholic beverages and spirits through, for example, supervisory inspections, market surveillance, sampling, as well as document and register supervision. Both plan-based supervision, based on a risk assessment, and reactive supervision are used. The importance of the self-monitoring of the licence holders is emphasised, and a company must describe the measures taken to guarantee the product safety of alcoholic beverages in its self-monitoring plan. The self-monitoring plan in accordance with the Alcohol Act specifies how compliance with the obligations laid down in the Alcohol Act will be ensured.

Licence and product register

Valvira has the right to receive from the licence holder the notifications and information concerning sales and other activities necessary for supervisory purposes and for assessing the risks of the activities. Valvira’s registers of alcoholic beverages sold in Finland (the product register) and licence holders (the licence register) are used in the supervision. The product register contains basic information about alcoholic beverages on the Finnish market and the traders responsible for them. The licence register contains information about manufacturers, wholesalers and importers of alcoholic beverages operating in Finland, as well as holders of licences for serving and retail sale of alcoholic beverages. 

Supervision in accordance with the Alcohol Act

Fermented alcoholic beverages containing up to 8% alcohol by volume and non-fermented alcoholic beverages containing up to 5.5% alcohol by volume may be sold to retail customers. If the analysed alcoholic content of products for retail sale exceeds 8% by volume for fermented beverages (or 5.5% by volume for other types of beverages), taking into account the uncertainty of the result (e.g. 0.05% by volume), they can only be sold to retail customers at outlets of Alko Inc. The same principle is used for the upper limit for the alcohol content of craft beers, farm wines and home-brewed beers (sahti) in retail sales. Valvira also supervises the general requirements for manufacturers and wholesalers of alcoholic beverages.

Supervision in accordance with the Food Act

Valvira supervises beverages containing more than 2.8% by volume of alcohol by virtue of the Food Act. In addition to Valvira, food control authorities include the Finnish Food Authority, municipalities, Regional State Administrative Agencies, the Finnish Defence Forces and Finnish Customs. The Finnish Food Authority plans, controls, develops and carries out nationwide food control and prepares multi-annual national control plans for the entire control chain. The EU Regulation on official controls sets general provisions for the official control of food legislation by the competent authorities of the Community and the Member States.